The News Rundown
- Overshadowed by Trudeau's unnecessary election call at the beginning of the week, was Nova Scotia's very own provincial election, which saw what the media described as a "major upset", with Tim Houston's Progressive Conservatives win their first election since 2006, defeating a two term Liberal government that the polls all said would return to power.
- Houston said the result shows voters pay attention when they're offered real solutions to real problems. He thanked voters for giving him and the party their support and pledged to work every day to keep it.
- "I may be the one on the stage, but it's Nova Scotians — Nova Scotians, you are the ones that spoke loud and clear in this election. For the next four years — and beyond — I will promise you this: I will give you everything I have to fix health care. I will give you everything I have to make this a better province. It won't happen overnight and it will cost money, but if we work together we can get the job done."
- Fixing health care and costing a lot of money doesn't sound like a typical conservative party platform, but it's the one that Nova Scotians voted for. For Houston, the result is vindication of the party's almost single-minded focus on health care for the month long . He repeatedly targeted the Liberal record of the last eight years, pointing to a growing wait list for family doctors, ambulance delays and a lack of long-term care beds.
- Colton LeBlanc, a former paramedic running for the PCs was the first candidate CBC News projected to win. Leblanc said it was clear on the doorsteps that health care was the top issue of the campaign.
- Liberal Leader Iain Rankin conceded the result as votes continued to be counted Tuesday evening, and before it had been determined whether the PCs were celebrating a majority or minority victory. He said he wouldn't have done anything different and will continue to lead provincial Liberals. The Rankin-led Liberals become the first sitting government in Canada not to be re-elected during the pandemic.
- Other conservative leaders congratulated Nova Scotia's Tories on Twitter, including federal conservative leader Erin O'Toole, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford, and former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
- The Nova Scotia election was also a win for diversity, as 4 Black MLAs were elected. Nova Scotia has never elected more than two Black MLAs at one time and prior to this election had only elected five Black MLAs in the history of the legislature.
- For the federal election, this shows exactly the large grain of salt that polls should be taken with, and the only poll that really matters is the election night result. For Trudeau, it should also worry him that the only provincial Liberal parties still in power are only in Newfoundland and the Yukon.
- Erin O'Toole will be likely looking to build on the beachhead into Atlantic Canada that the Conservatives made in 2019, after getting swept entirely in 2015. For him, the results should show that his more moderate platform will hopefully garner results in the east, which could make all the difference.
- But the real takeaway is that governments should not breathe easy just because the polls say that they're ahead. In politics, a day can change everything.
- Without wasting time the Conservatives have released their campaign platform. The platform lacks major shock value and puts forward many moderate policies that Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives hope will win over voters in key suburban ridings.
- The document weighing in at 160 pages is thorough and perhaps the element that surprised many is that Erin O’Toole’s body shot is front and centre on the cover stylized like an issue of McLean’s magazine while he himself stands ready to clean up Ottawa looking like Mr. Clean.
- The platform could best be described as a modern version of “thoughtful populism” aimed at suburbanites, workers, and union members.
- The biggest push in the Conservative platform is tackling affordability. Affordability on everything from housing prices to prices at the grocery store and other retail outlets.
- To combat rising prices the Conservatives have promised to waive the 5% GST on all retail purchases made in the month of December if elected.
- To make housing more affordable the Conservatives will build 1 million new houses in the next 3 years. These will use federal infrastructure investments to increase housing supply. The Conservatives also want to release at least 15% of the 37,000 buildings that the federal governments own to have housing built on that land.
- The Conservatives will also hone in on rising cell phone bills by creating more competition allowing foreign cell phone companies to serve Canadians if a Canadian mobile company can serve that country.
- The platform is also big on accountability. The Conservative government will pass an Anti-Corruption Act, strengthening the existing Conflict of Interest Act by increasing penalties for all violations, including the ones that Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau were guilty of breaching. The maximum fine will be increased from $500 to $50,000.
- They will also amend the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament to prevent MPs from collecting speaking fees while serving in the House of Commons as we saw with the WE charity scandal.
- The Conservatives will also ban lobbying by any individual or entity on a matter that is subject of a criminal proceeding. This will prevent a future government from repeating the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
- To further prevent scandals like the SNC-Lavalin scandal from happening the Canada Evidence Act will be amended to ensure that Cabinet Confidence can no longer be used to shield government insiders from a criminal investigation.
- Touching the true core of populism, the Conservatives will make Canada less reliant on foreign countries like China by increasing production of critical medicines and vaccines in Canada, strengthening the domestic production of PPEs, and overhauling and rebuilding the national emergency stockpile.
- The platform also includes the Conservative climate change plan that we discussed on Western Context 215 where Canadians would pay a carbon levy equivalent to $20 per tonne in greenhouse gas emissions every time they buy hydrocarbon based fuels.
- The money would go to “personal low carbon savings accounts” and then the individual consumer at the end of the day could determine how best to spend that money. Options could include a transit pass, bike, new furnace, or even an electric vehicle.
- The Conservatives also commit to helping provinces build public transit and Paris climate commitments.
- Alongside this, one of the only ways to reach true green energy is an investment in nuclear energy. The platform brings a new focus on hydrogen, nuclear, and renewables.
- One of the hardest things for those in Alberta to deal with since 2015 has been seeing the province used as a divisive wedge for Justin Trudeau’s political gain.
- The Conservatives will “end the mistreatment of Western Canada'' and pass the Equalization and Transfers Fairness Act as we discussed a few weeks back on Western Context. In 2019 the premiers unanimously endorsed a suggestion to lift caps on the fiscal stabilization program to send more money to the provinces - these changes will be implemented. They will also fix the impact assessment process put in place by Bill C-69 and end the northern BC shipping traffic ban.
- The Conservative Platform is at its core a 5 point plan: 1. Secure jobs. 2. Secure accountability. 3. Secure Mental Health. 4. Secure the Country. and 5. Secure the Economy.
- That last point is perhaps most important. Media coverage this week has focused on the affordability angle and surprisingly the liberal leader has not been able to drive the media cycle. We’ll see where this goes but the economy is not getting better and we’ll have a story about the high inflation rates Canada is facing a little bit later.
- It's been a tough summer for many in Western Canada, and that includes those in BC as well as in Alberta. While many wildfires across BC are still forcing people from their homes, both provinces are experiencing a rise in Covid cases over the past week, mainly among the unvaccinated. While many were looking at a return to normalcy, where they can spend their vacations outside in the great landscapes of Western Canada, the fires have blocked highways, smoke has threatened the health of those outside, and a general malaise seems to have spread over the population at the prospect of the end of another summer ruined.
- With all this in mind, is there any doubt that some people just want to get away from it all? Two very high profile people did just that, in the form of BC Premier John Horgan, and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, to two very different reactions.
- While it's almost always bad for optics for the political class to take a holiday during a crisis, it can be said that we've been in a constant crisis for a year and a half now. Interestingly enough, the reaction to Horgan, an NDP premier, and Kenney, a Conservative premier, have been very different, and it's interesting to have two similar situations for the two so we can see how the media responds to each of them.
- Horgan hasn’t been seen publicly in nearly four weeks, when he went on a tour of the Southeast Fire Centre on July 21. He has intentionally stayed out of the spotlight throughout the pandemic, reiterating several times that the provincial health officer and health minister are the professionals best equipped to deal with managing COVID-19 and he doesn’t want to be a distraction.
- But the premier has also made numerous gaffes in the past year, including telling young people not to “blow it for the rest of us” by ignoring rules to curb COVID-19 infections, claiming B.C.’s approach to the pandemic was “successful” on the day the province reached a new hospitalization milestone, claiming to be “the most transparent jurisdiction in North America” despite endemic data holdback – and most notably dismissing heat dome fatalities as “a part of life.”
- That raises the question of whether Horgan’s staff are encouraging him to avoid the limelight and the risk of more controversy in his off-hand remarks. Horgan’s office would not confirm where he is vacationing, but he was rumoured to be in Atlantic Canada with his family.
- Hamish Telford, associate professor of political science at the University of the Fraser Valley agrees, though he didn’t think that was behind Horgan’s low profile before or during fire season. “John Horgan has put his mouth in a few instances during COVID pandemic and earlier on in this fire season. I think they made a calculated decision that everything that was needed to fight the fire was in place and if the boss was needed, he’s a cellphone call away.”
- However, he also said “it doesn’t look good and in politics optics is very important” while pointing out Horgan would’ve faced criticism either way, and that if there’d been widespread devastation in larger communities he expected the premier would have cut his trip short.
- BC Liberal MLA's have also been eviscerating the premier, but the media is content to highlight others doing the talking instead of focusing on the opposition.
- BC Nurses' Union president Gayle Duteil tweeted: “Nurses, doctors and other first responders have had their vacations cancelled due to the fourth wave, short staffing, wildfire evacuations in LTC, the list goes on. But you do you, (Horgan).”
- B.C. currently has one of the highest active per capita COVID-19 caseloads of any province in the country, only ahead of Alberta.
- Speaking of, Jason Kenney has also been on vacation for roughly the same amount of time. Kenney has not been seen or heard from in over a week, when Labatt Breweries Alberta made a multi-million dollar investment into the provincial economy. His office said he is on a two week vacation, but he is still working, and according to his press secretary is still “able to fully communicate with his cabinet and senior officials as required. In fact, he has participated in numerous briefings despite being ‘on holidays.’”
- CTV threw in a comparison in their article about Kenney's vacation, talking about former US president George W Bush taking a vacation in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans which CTV says "that some credit with helping Barack Obama win the 2008 election". It's interesting that they're trying to say this will cause a change of government in the next election.
- It should be said that neither premier has to worry about re-election anytime soon, mid 2023 for Kenney and late 2024 for Horgan. By then, this issue of taking a working vacation will be firmly in the rear view mirror. And the media publishing articles defending Horgan saying it's not a problem or saying Kenney will lose the next election because of it, will all be forgotten.
- Economists have been saying for months now that inflation is a problem in Canada. Anyone who buys anything or pays any bills knows that prices are going up but wages are not.
- This is why affordability has been so high on the lists of both the Conservatives and NDP.
- In the most recent report, Statistics Canada said that inflation hit 3.7% in July. It was last this high in 2011.
- Inflation is typically high when the economy is doing well or in this case, when government spending has overheated the economy.
- This happened because of the Trudeau government running stimulus level spending before the pandemic even began, which meant that when pandemic level spending started, inflation was almost a given.
- Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem warned against taking action against what he called a “temporary spike” and sees inflation going even higher to 3.9% before topping out at the end of the year.
- As we highlighted with the Conservative platform, affordability is a key policy area as it is with the NDP.
- When asked if the Bank of Canada would be given a mandate to tolerate higher inflation, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau had no comment of substance.
- Instead he said, “When I think about the biggest most important economic policy this government, if re-elected, would move forward, you’ll forgive me if I don’t think about monetary policy… You’ll understand if I think about families.” QOTW
- It is precisely this attitude that led to the situation we are in. Justin Trudeau is most known for one of his quotes saying, “the budget will balance itself.”
- He is so focused on the next issue that will wedge one portion of the voter base against another for political gain.
- Earlier this week it was the Conservatives plan to not require federal workers to be vaccinated and instead rely on rapid tests if they were not — this plan was the same as the Liberal plan.
- Later in the week it was preventing any Canadian if unvaccinated from moving between provinces via plane, train or boat.
- Another day it was the she-cession, a fact that is true, women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic but wedging one portion of the voter base against another will not solve that problem.
- The only thing that will, is economic and monetary policy that is grounded in the reality of 2021.
- Delving into this issue requires an understanding that energy prices, semiconductor prices, and a reopening have raised prices. This should have been anticipated and generally shows why stimulus spending to grow the economy should only be used during a recession.
- The problem is both supply side and demand side. As there are shortages in the supply chains but there is also an increased demand on goods such housing and durable goods which have been driven by recovery policy.
- I don’t expect everyone to know or care about the finer details behind inflation but it’s simple at its core.
- Government spending and investment fosters economic growth and this creates shortages on the supply side due to increased production and it also creates more demand for these goods. As a result, prices will go up. This was happening before the pandemic began but was cooled by shutdowns in mid-2020. Now we’re seeing the return of this combined with post pandemic recovery programs.
- This means higher prices for each and every person in this country and it’s not only the end product. It compounds at each level through the supply chain, so yes, it is something we should worry about.
- But liberal leader Justin Trudeau has instead sought to use it to further divide Canadians.
Word of the Week
Unnecessary - not needed
Quote of the Week
“When I think about the biggest most important economic policy this government, if re-elected, would move forward, you’ll forgive me if I don’t think about monetary policy… You’ll understand if I think about families.” - Liberal leader Justin Trudeau on his lack of forethought for the economy and finances.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Cleaning Up Ottawa
Teaser: The PCs win in the Nova Scotia election, Erin O’Toole’s Conservative platform is thoughtful and moderate, and Horgan and Kenney decide to take vacations. Also Canada’s inflation rate continues to inflate.
Recorded Date: August 20, 2021
Release Date: August 22, 2021
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes